DEAR ABBY: I am in my sunset years and not well. I know my time is short, but I have one bright spot in my life -- my 5-year-old grandson, "Connor."
Because the little fella stayed with us after preschool and spent much time with us, my wife and I are especially fond of him.
Our problem? Connor's dad (our son) and his wife (the child's mother) disapprove of our fondness for Connor. They say they don't want the boy "hurt" by my impending death and now keep him away from us as much as possible.
Abby, we adore our grandchild. We're heartbroken that he is being kept away from us much of the time simply because his parents are afraid he will grieve when his Paw-Paw dies. What should we do? -- PAW-PAW AND MAW-MAW IN ALABAMA
DEAR PAW-PAW: Your son and daughter-in-law mean well, but they are misguided in trying to "protect" their son from one of the inescapable realities of life. They may be trying to avoid their own issues having to do with death.
You need to have a serious talk with them. Connor's relationship with you and his grandmother is a positive one, regardless of the state of your health. It might be helpful to enlist the assistance of your spiritual adviser and/or your physician.
Death is a part of life, and as sad as these partings may be, children usually recover with amazing resiliency. To cheat Connor -- and you -- out of the short time you have left together is a mistake.
DEAR ABBY: I have been involved with "Alex" for almost five years. We have lived together for two of these five years and have been having problems in the last year or so.
I'm interested in getting some kind of relationship counseling, as I am confident we can work things out once the lines of communication are opened again. My problem is I don't know where to look. I often hear about marriage counseling. Is that only for married people? If you have any ideas, I'd be grateful. -- BECKIE IN BOSTON
DEAR BECKIE: Your physician should be able to refer you to a counselor who can help. Marriage counseling is a form of couples counseling or relationship counseling, and it will work for any couple -- married or not -- who are willing to work at it.
If Alex is open to the idea, some sessions could help you establish healthier, more direct and meaningful communication with each other. I hope you can talk him into going and wish you the best of luck.
DEAR ABBY: I have recently moved from New Jersey to Florida. When I am invited to someone's home for a party or dinner, I always bring a hostess gift, wine or dessert. However, when I invite these people to my home, they wrap or pack up what they brought and take it with them when they leave.
I have never experienced this where I was raised. Is this proper? -- NEWCOMER TO FORT PIERCE, FLA.
DEAR NEWCOMER: Not where I come from it isn't. The term "hostess gift" means it is a GIFT for the person hosting the party or dinner. It should be left with the host or hostess to enjoy at any time the person wishes -- and it does not have to be shared with the guests. To march into the person's kitchen, wrap and take home the unused portion without it being offered is just plain rude.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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